Pancreas Treatments

Radiation Oncology

Radiation oncology is a form of cancer treatment that targets energy waves at cancer cells to damage or destroy them. It can also be helpful in relieving pain. Radiation therapy is rarely used to treat endocrine pancreatic tumors due to a lack of efficacy, though it is sometimes used to relieve pain associated with endocrine cancer that has spread to the bone. However, radiation therapy may be used to treat tumors in the exocrine pancreas. Radiation therapy is a more effective and less risky option for cancers of the bile duct or gallbladder.

There are two types of radiation therapy: external and internal. External radiation involves pointing a machine called a linear accelerator at a specific area of the body to deliver radiation to the tumor. Patients will usually receive external radiation treatments five days a week for several weeks. In internal radiation, also called brachytherapy or radioembolization, radioactive materials are delivered directly into the tumor.

Emory is also performing a novel radiation treatment called stereotactic body radiation. This treatment used to be restricted to brain tumors, because it required screwing a rigid frame in place around the skull. But because of recent technological advances, Emory doctors are now able to use this highly effective targeted therapy on tumors of the pancreas.

Patient Benefits

•    Performed on an outpatient basis

•    Patients can continue with most of their usual activities during treatment

•    The procedure itself is painless

Patient Risks

•    Damage to healthy tissue

•    Fatigue

•    Nausea and vomiting

•    Diarrhea

Pancreas Conditions